In the game of basketball there is nothing like witnessing an ankle-breaker. Dunks are cool, but there is something about watching a defender surrender to gravity and falling on the court after a vicious crossover. Whether you fight it to this day, we have all been victims.
I decided to count the 30 best ankle breakers in NBA history. This whole list could have been made up of Allen Iverson crossovers but that wouldn’t be fair. Note: it is near impossible to ever come up with a perfect ankle-breaker list…
Honorable Mention: MJ’s Last Shot on Bryon Russell
MJ’s last shot as a Chicago Bull was a storybook ending. The move and the shot is everything you dream of as a kid, crossing over a defender with seconds on the clock and draining the shot to win the game. Unfortunately, MJ’s competitive pride drove him to return to league a couple years later in D.C. Before I am slayed for only including this as an honorable mention, this move can be number one on any list, so to make things fun and competitive, I decided to leave it off.
Honorable Mention #2: Tim Hardaway Killer Crossovers
This is about individual crossover moments that happened in games, but Tim Hardaway revolutionized the crossover dribble and used it very effectively. I had to pay homage to one of the greatest to ever do it. His crossover was built on speed and power and the way he dribbled, going through one leg and bringing the ball across his body while running full speed is incredible. However, I decided to let the legend take a seat on this one. Just enjoy the video below.
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30. Jamal Crawford Loses Lance Stephenson
Jamal Crawford made Lance look silly with this move. DeAndre Jordan screen or not, Lance was still heading in the other direction.
29. Deron Williams Crosses Kirk Hinrich
I miss the old D-Will when he played for the Jazz. He was perhaps the best point guard in the league for sometime a few years back. His crossover was/is wicked because he uses so much of his upper body strength that other guards do not have. Kirk Hinrich had no chance.
28. Dwyane Wade Makes O.J. Mayo Collide with Teammate and Falls
The behind-the-leg crossover has been a signature move for Dwyane Wade over the years and O.J. felt the wrath on this one after colliding with his teammate and falling.
27. Carmelo Anthony Crosses Vince Carter Out of Bounds
Carmelo has one of the craftiest handles in the NBA and is very sneaky when he uses his crossover. Vince wounds up out of bounds somehow after the end of the play.
26. Kevin Durant Makes Sasha Pavlovic Take a Seat
No one expects someone as tall as Kevin Durant to have handle like he does. His arms are extremely long and you would guess that an NBA athlete could predict what would happen, but that wasn’t the case with Sasha Pavlovic, who took a seat during the play.
25. LeBron Makes Nic Batum a Fan for a Game
Same thing goes for LeBron with the above statement about KD. The move was great and Batum became a spectator in the crowd after the behind-the-back move from LBJ.
24. Brandon Jennings Crosses Stephen Curry
You have to feel happy for Stephen Curry that he has blossomed into a star. After dealing with severe ankle problems throughout the first years of his NBA career, he has become a stud… but when his ankles a few years back were very unstable, guys like Brandon Jennings had no remorse.
23. Ty Lawson Almost Breaks Ryan Anderson’s Ankles For Real
The term ankle-breaker has always been used figuratively to describe a crossover but Ty Lawson almost made the term a real thing, when Ryan Anderson’s ankles almost came out of their sockets.
22. J.R. Smith Makes Lou Amundson Fall
The video quality sucks, but I find it funny when a big man is left on an “island” trying to defend a guard, (Ex. Kemba Walker vs. Gary McGhee). J.R. Smith straight up embarrasses Amundson on the behind-the-back move.
21. Kobe Bryant breaks Grant Hill’s Ankles
I remember watching this live a few years back in the playoffs and jumping up and down in my living room. Grant Hill is a guy who dealt with some serious ankle injuries during his playing days and the Mamba unleashed a wicked crossover that sent Hill to one knee.
20. Jamal Crawford Leaves Wesley Matthews
We all know Jamal Crawford has some of the best handles in the league, if not the best. This was one of the oddest crossovers in NBA history. The move was so slick and beautiful. I have no clue what Wesley Matthews was doing. He was so lost and confused that he thought it was a push off. This is not the last time you will see Jamal on this list.
19. Chris Paul’s In And Out On Andre Miller
I kind of feel sorry for Andre Miller. He is like the old guy at the park that you should take it easy on but if you don’t he is probably going to try to embarrass you. It was a simple in and out by CP3 but Miller still surfaced on the floor.
18. Steve Francis Toys with Troy Hudson
Steve Francis in the early 2000s was one of the most fun players to watch in the league. His handle was ridiculous and he had crazy bounce for someone for his height. He absolutely toyed with Troy Hudson in this play–it was like something you will see at a Harlem Globetrotters game.
17. Kyrie Irving Makes Brandon Knight Fall
To pull off an exciting move while everyone in the basketball world is watching you hoping you do it is impressive. The All-Star/Rising Stars Challenge is for fan entertainment and Kyrie put on one of the most exciting shows in recent memory when he dropped Brandon Knight after a series of dribbling moves.
16. Jameer Nelson Almost Ends Paul Pierce‘s Career
When I first saw this, I really thought Paul Pierce was injured. People are not supposed to fall like that. Just nasty.
15. Nate Robinson Makes Reggie Jackson Do a Split
Nate Robinson has not got the credit for the amount of ankle-breakers he has over his career. Nate Rob is one of the best showman in the NBA and is a hero for all of us little guys in the world. Reggie Jackson does a split and his face after the play is the best thing about it.
14. Dwyane Wade Sends Raja Bell 20 Feet
Was the floor extra slippery at American Airlines Arena this day? If it wasn’t for the post, Raja would have still been sliding. Raja is one of the best flop artists to ever play in NBA history so we will never know what his intentions were on this play.
13. Chris Paul Puts Anthony Carter in the Blender
To be honest, I do not think I have ever seen someone get crossed up as much on one play than Anthony Carter. What did Anthony Carter do to deserve this treatment? CP3 toyed with him on one of the craziest crossover combinations you will ever see.
12. Iverson Steps Over Tyronn Lue
What A.I did was straight up disrespectful after he crossed up Tyronn Lue. To think about stepping over a defender during an intense NBA Finals game, you have to have a lot of heart.
11. Damon Stoudamire Makes Ron Harper Touch Earth
This is one of personal favorite crossovers of all time. Every great ankle-breaker deserves some kind of presentation or emotion after it’s completed. The stare after the step-back made this one of the greats. This is also when Ron Harper was one of the best defenders in the league.
10. Russell Westbrook Sends Luke Ridnour Flying
First off to think Ridnour was actually guarding Westbrook during the game was crazy. He had no chance and was sent flying. Did he step on his teammate’s foot? Perhaps but he was on his way down anyway.
9. Deron Williams Shifts Jason Terry
This crossover was filthy and the only thing you can say after watching this is “Sh*t.” This ankle-breaker was so bad that if you go based upon the announcer’s reaction you would have thought Deron Williams scored on the play. When the video is showed in slo-motion, it only makes things worse. Jason Terry got violated.
8. Stephon Marbury takes down Yao
This is the funniest ankle-breaker of all-time. How does a 7-6 big man from China end up on an island guarding one of the best ballhandlers in the league? It was a simple crossover but I bet Yao had never seen anything like this back at home. The Suns bench reaction is great.
7. Allen Iverson Takes Jacque Vaughn Ice Skating
You have to give Jacque Vaughn credit for having the guts to try to defend A.I all the way to midcourt. On the other hand, it was probably one of the dumbest decisions of his life when A.I sent him to the floor with a nasty crossover.
6. Jason Williams Takes Gary Payton’s Soul
After I watched this I visualized Gary Payton’s soul leaving his body–that’s how bad this was. The Glove is probably the greatest on-ball defender as a point guard but he did not expect White Chocolate to devastate him like this on the break. It was fast and wicked and GP had no reaction after the move, he could only stare in disbelief. Dime’s Sean Sweeney is the biggest White Chocolate fan in the world so I know I am going to hear it from him after seeing it this low on the list.
5. Dwyane Wade Makes Eric Snow Fall
Eric Snow, until this day, claims D-Wade pushed him on this play but I really do not see it. It was a beautiful move by Dwyane and Eric Snow legs couldn’t hold up.
4. Derrick Rose Breaks Andre Miller‘s Ankles
It is embarrassing to fall how Andre Miller fell on this play. His ankle really told him to just let go. It is one of those ankle-breakers where you just say “ouch” after watching. The announcer’s reaction is the best thing about the video. D-Rose, please come back already!
3. Jamal Crawford Cooks Ray Allen
I do not know how to describe this. This was just incredibly filthy. Reading the YouTube comments is the funniest part about this video. Some fans reactions were the best:
“He f*cked him up”
“This was so nasty I switched to porn when my mom came in”
“DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *Smoky from Friday voice*
2. Allen Iverson Makes Antonio Daniels Fall Twice
This will forever be one of the greatest ankle-breakers of all time. It is not often you will see a player fall twice on the same play. Antonio Daniels should have taken the loss and sat down the first time but tried to be a hero and got dropped again.
1. Allen Iverson Crosses Jordan
Finishing the top two spots is the legend himself. A.I is the greatest crossover maestro of all-time. He made the NBA an ice skating show every night. This one deserves to be number one because this is the start of everything–a young A.I versus the greatest of all time in MJ. Mike did not fall and it wasn’t as bad as others on the list but I bet A.I was plotting this his whole life. Drake said it best in his song “Thank Me Now”:
And that’s around the time that your idols become your rivals/You make friends with Mike but got to A.I. him for your survival
Like many kids growing up in the era, Allen Iverson worshipped MJ. But to be the best you have to beat the best and he let him have it on this play. Hearing Phil Jackson call “Michael” to step up is legendary. The first cross was enough to shift MJ then A.I went for it again and succeeded.
What’s your favorite?
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